The events that drove data usage in the first half of 2019

Have you ever heard of the phenomenon called TV pickup, which happens when surges in UK electricity demand are detected during or after notable on-air events?

The biggest demand ever came back in the summer of 1990. Then, millions of viewers saw England crash out of the football World Cup on penalties – and immediately switched the kettle on or started using power in other ways.

Other major sporting events, Royal Weddings and episodes of Eastenders are some of the additional causes of TV pickup.

But as our lives have become more connected by technology, these television-based spectacles have become rarer. So how can we try and measure the equivalent demand for knowledge about sports, current affairs and landmark occasions? The answer, as is often the case, could be contained in our phones.

We decided to crunch some numbers and look at the average mobile data use on individual days within the first six months of 2019. Which day would come out on top – and would that correspond to people wanting to go online on their phones to find out about a major event?

Data Usage Spike January to June 2019

The date with the largest average mobile data use was May 24th, which also happened to be the day that Theresa May resigned. People were seemingly using mobile data to find out the latest, including perhaps her emotional speech outside 10 Downing Street. After all, it’s not every day that a Prime Minister announces his or her resignation.

It was a more familiar date that took second place, although there was presumably quite a lot of emotion on show on February 14th too. Using lots of mobile data might not be the most romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day, unless of course you were video calling the love of your life or streaming a movie.

Also in the top five dates was March 6th, which is where a sporting connection comes into play. That evening, a last-gasp penalty took Manchester United into the Champions League quarter finals thanks to a dramatic victory over Paris Saint-Germain. Many of us were seemingly reaching for our phones to either watch or read about the match.

When it comes to these findings, one thing isn’t in doubt – our data usage is rapidly increasing. Its upward curve has been boosted not only by our business needs but also our appetite to keep track of and react to events elsewhere. We no longer gather around a television; we use a phone instead.

And if you’re responsible for your company’s mobile estate and data usage, this can lead to a bad case of bill shock. What’s more, it’s not always possible to predict the events that can cause mobile data usage to increase on a day-by-day basis.

That’s why it’s vital to be able to access details about when and where data usage is happening. You need to keep track of all your devices and the data that’s being used on every single one of them.

For more information on how you can increase your visibility or control over data use and spend, get in touch or visit

Posted on: 26th June 2019

Posted in: Blog